Saturday, December 15, 2012

LID: Honor the US Bill of Rights

December 15

Bill of Rights Day

The Bill of Rights is one of the most important documents to ever have been penned in United States history. On December 8, 2011 President Barak Obama called upon all Americans to remember this significant American document by proclaiming December 15 as National Bill of Rights Day. Below is the proclamation that was released by the Office of the Press Secretary at the White House. 

On December 15, 1791, the United States adopted the Bill of Rights, enshrining in our Constitution the protection of our inalienable freedoms, from the right to speak our minds and worship as we please to the guarantee of equal justice under the law. For 220 years, these fundamental liberties have shaped our national character and stirred the souls of all who dream of a freer, more just world. As we mark this milestone, we renew our commitment to preserving our universal rights and perfecting our Union.
Introduced in the First Congress in 1789, the Bill of Rights was born out of compromise. The promise of enumerated rights enabled the ratification of the Constitution without fear that a more centralized government would encroach on American freedoms. In adopting the first ten Amendments, our Founders put forth an ideal that continues to define our Nation -- that we can have both liberty and security, that we need not sacrifice the rights of man for the rule of law.
Throughout our country's history, generations have risen to uphold the principles outlined in our Bill of Rights and advance equality for all Americans. The liberties we enjoy today are possible only because of these brave patriots, from the service members who have defended our freedom to the citizens who have braved billy clubs and fire hoses in the hope of extending America's promise across lines of color and creed. On Bill of Rights Day, we celebrate this proud legacy and resolve to pass to our children an America worthy of our Founders' vision.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 15, 2011, as Bill of Rights Day. I call upon the people of the United States to mark this observance with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

What Are the Bill of Rights?

Did you get all that? If not, here's a recap.

Freedom In The Making

"[A] bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse." 
--- Thomas Jefferson December 20, 1787 

James Madison's Notes
In the summer of 1787, the delegates from the first thirteen states gathered together in Philedelphia for the Constitutional Congress. Thomas Jefferson presented the constituion he had penned. The first Constitution contained a system of check and balances that favored a strong executive branch, a representative legislature and a federal judiciary. It was a remarkable document for its time. Yet it had one flaw. It was missing a Bill of Rights. The Constitution only stated what the government could do. Federalist were against adding a Bill of Rights believing it was unnessary while Anti-federalist saw the need for its inclusion because they were afraid of a strong centralized government. The American people wanted assurance from their new government would not trample upon their newly formed freedoms. In the end popular sentiment convienced the delegates that the United States needed a Bill of Rights. The delegates worked for four years to create the Bill of Rights. James Madison, a delegate from Virginia, reviewed all the proposals made by the other delegates and reviewed all thirteen state constitutions. He made certain that any proposal would not weaken the newly formed central government. James Madison had once written to Thomas Jefferson stating, ""[I have] always been in favor of a bill of rights... At the same time I have never thought the omission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment." 

James Madison approaching Congress with the Bill of Rights
On May 4, 1789, James Madison approached Congress stating he intended to introduce the Bill of Rights to them on May 25. During that time Congress was too busy discussing import business to hear about the Bill of Rights. When May 25th came around Congress was still in a heated debate concerning import laws. The discussion was shelved. Madison decided to try the topic again on June 8. Yet again Congress blocked him with other important matters. Frustrated, he rose to the floor and demanded their attention. He presented to them why they should include the Bill of Rights. They finally listened but not everyone was convinced. You can read his speech here:
and you can learn more about his struggle at 
This is a link to the Bill of Rights Madison tried to propose to the Congress of the States on May 4, 1789.

The Bill of Rights were ratified on December 15, 1791 in Virigina. 

Watch this video for more information about the forming of the Bill of Rights. It is an very interesting video. 

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